Investigating transdiagnostic and interpersonal applications of the contrast avoidance model through path analysis


Author/Creator ORCID




Towson University. Department of Psychology


Citation of Original Publication




The current study aimed to evaluate the role of emotional contrast avoidance (CA; Newman & Llera, 2011) in relationships between insecure attachment and outcomes of psychopathological symptoms and interpersonal problems (IPs). It was hypothesized that 1) insecure attachment leads to CA tendencies, and 2) symptoms of both GAD and depression, as well as socially intrusive and socially avoidant IPs, may be mechanisms of CA – in that insecurely attached individuals employ diverse means to maintain a negative state of emotional arousal in order to avoid experiencing downward emotional shifts. A sample of undergraduate participants (N = 346) completed a set of self-report questionnaires that measured attachment anxiety, attachment avoidance, contrast avoidance, symptoms of depression, symptoms of GAD, and socially avoidant and intrusive IPs. The best-fit path analysis model demonstrated that contrast avoidance significantly mediated the effects of attachment anxiety and avoidance on all outcomes of interest in predicted ways. Specifically, CA was a significant mediator in relationships between (a) attachment anxiety and both GAD symptoms and socially intrusive IPs, and (b) attachment avoidance and both depressive symptoms and socially avoidant IPs. Findings support hypotheses that CA tendencies may develop due to negative attachment experiences, and that subsequent outcomes can be predicted by whether high levels of attachment anxiety or avoidance are present. Future research should test the efficacy of interventions targeting CA, or mechanisms of CA, in individuals with GAD and/or depression.